As some U.S. major airlines ground their most fuel-inefficient aircraft and eliminate unprofitable routes, Middle Eastern carriers are expanding as fast as they can. They hope to be able to redefine the region as the new crossroads in global aviation. According to Airbus’ chief executive, Thomas Enders "these airlines are on a very impressive growth path and expansion course."
Airbus has recently delivered a new A380 jumbo jet to the chairman of Emirates. Emirates Airlines has increased its orders to Airbus to 58 planes in the past eight years. And just last month, the airlines signed another letter of intent for an additional 60 jets totalling more than $13 Billion. Emirates Airlines has focused on Dubai’s central location. The plan is to link places that were not already linked, such as China and Africa. The Middle East is also spending nearly $55 billion on airport expansion, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
In total airlines in the Middle East have ordered 700 new planes in the last three years, costing about $140 Billion. Etihad Airlines just last month order 100 new aircraft, including 10 new Airbus A380s. According to the airline, the size of their order mirrors the rising prominence of the Middle East and its emergence as a new focal point in global aviation. Passenger travel between the Middle East and Africa rose 20% in the first five months of 2008, and 14% between the Middle East and the Far East. In eight capital cities on the Indian subcontinent, Emirates already offers travelers to the U.S. a chance to change planes in Dubai, rather than go through congested European airports.